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Berlin residents' home rehab marks National Homeownership Month

July 02, 2014
BERLIN — Leon and Priscille Boucher of 74 Cordwell Lane, who can certainly claim to have one of the City's best mountain views — the rugged cliffs of Mount Forist and the more distant peaks of the Presidential Range, including Mount Washington — welcomed a two dozen or of officials and volunteers on Friday to their home off Summer Street where they've lived for 47-plus years.

A recent $7,500 home repair grant from U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development allowed the couple to replace their roof, which, in turn, sparked other donations, grants and volunteer efforts. As a result today's energy-saving insulation was installed as was new wiring and a breaker panel box, replacing both outdated knob-and-tube wiring and a fuse box.

Staff from USDA as well as Tri-County CAP worked together along with the on-the-ground North Country staffers — Chuck Henderson who represents Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat of Madbury; Mike Scala, who represents Sen. Kelly Ayotte, a Republican of Nashua; and Brian Bresnahan who represents Congresswoman Annie Kuster, a Democrat of Hopkinton — to identify state, federal and local private assistance to help the Bouchers safely and affordably stay in their own beloved home during their retirement years.

Leon Boucher worked at the paper mills in Groveton then owned and operated by Diamond International and then James River and was a trucker in his later years.

Both he and his wife are active grandparents and enjoy the company of their seventh-grade Berlin Middle School grandson, John, most afternoons during the school year.

"Modest investments from USDA and our partners can help working class New Hampshire seniors and families build equity by helping them buy, repair and enjoy their homes," explained USDA Rural Development N.H. and Vt. State Director Ted Brady in his remarks to a crowd gathered outside the Boucher home. He pointed and others pointed out that National Homeowners Month was designed to emphasize the importance of home ownership in America.

More than 20 volunteers spent the day working with the Boucher family, including USDA staffers who came to work on what is usually a Fridays-off schedule.

Local contractor Jim Lavertue was on hand, and Brady also touted the outstanding contributions of Mitch Couture, as well as Caron Building Center that donated building materials, and Rockingham Electric that donated wiring supplies.

City of Berlin Housing Coordinator Linda White and Gregg Carlson of HUD were also on hand, as was City Councilor Diana Nelson, representing Berlin Mayor Paul Grenier. District 1 state Senator Jeff Woodburn of Dalton, District 1 Executive Councilor Joe Kenney of Wakefield, and his Nov. 4 opponent, Grafton County commissioner Mike Cryans of Hanover, also enjoyed the moment.

Chuck Henderson, speaking on behalf of Senator Shaheen, presented the Bouchers with an American flag that had been flown over the Capitol to honor the memory of Army Pvt. Armand Couture of Berlin, Priscille's uncle and godfather who died in 1944 in France following D-Day. Born in 1940, Priscille was only three years old when her mother's brother died at age 27 fighting Nazis in Normandy.

The special memorial flag was hung from the railing of the new back porch, built as part of the renovation project.

Boucher family members, plus federal, state, and local officials and volunteers, proudly gathered around the Stars and Stripes. Faith Gringras of Gorham, who wore a T-shirt identifying her as Miss Teen USDA Rural Development, presented the Bouchers with a brand-new "Welcome" mat.

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